Getting Back to Brilliant Basics

Getting Back to Brilliant Basics

I am not going to use this post to spout political rhetoric at you. I am not going to speak about the social ills that have befallen us as a nation. It would be simple to say that we, as South Africa, are at a crossroads… But I am afraid we have been stationary at those crossroads for far too long now. We need to pick a direction. We must pick action. We need to pick brilliant basics as a way to begin the journey back to prosperity.

This is not a typical post for me. There is no link to digital marketing or a truly overt link to business. This is a post that I have found myself thinking about writing more and more often recently. The core of this post centers around something that Ian Penhale said to me whilst he and I were consulting to the Johannesburg Business School and we were discussing the School’s new brand and marketing strategy, and he said that we need to start with Brilliant Basics.

Big Chunky Problems

At the time I wasn’t sure what Ian meant. He went on to explain that the best brand and marketing strategies, in fact: the best strategies, plans, and intentions, all inevitably fail because of the really shaky foundations they were built on. These grand strategies fail because they didn’t construct a solid base by ensuring that the basics were done right. They rush through the “easy stuff” and launch into trying to solve the big chunky problems; without ensuring that they were ready to move on because they had brilliant basics already in place.

The reason why I have been mulling this post over for a really long time now is that all around us, we are seeing parts of our country fall to pieces.

These are big chunky problems. These are problems that we cannot deal with in isolation. They are too big for that! These are systemic problems, ones that have been cultivated and shaped so that the needs of the few are sure to outweigh the needs of the many!

What I mean here is that corruption is certainly a big chunky problem. Corruption cannot be solved in a vacuum. There is a multitude of things that lead and build for someone to become ultimately corrupt. There are a host of smaller less chunky problems that all need to align and add up. We need to irradicate the less chunky problems first. We need brilliant basics!

What are brilliant basics?

To understand brilliant basics in context, we need to look at the things that are the opposite of that!

These are some of the ones I see every day.

  • Throwing litter and garbage from your car on the highway
  • Not stopping at a red traffic light
  • failing to stop (and waiting your turn) at a fourway stop
  • Not closing the fridge door in the frozen food isle in a food store
  • Talking on or using your cellphone while driving
  • Failing to wear your mask properly in public during a pandemic

I’m not saying that people who do this are automatically corrupt. I am saying that people who do this repeatedly, are not only setting a bad example that others assume is the norm; but they are consistently lowering their own standards and moving away from Brilliant Basics. This starts us on the path towards more and more transgressions being considered okay.

Brilliant basics are about ensuring the small little things (that we can all control) are done right. They lay the foundation for value. These principles show the world that there is pride here. They set a tone for success.

Why do we need Brilliant Basics?

These are the values and principles that guide us as a society. The basic laws and rules that we break each and every day, start creating blind spots, ambiguity, and loopholes where the bigger and more serious transgressions begin to take shape and expand!

Why do we learn to sit and crawl before we walk and run? Why do we first understand basic mathematics before we dive into differential equations and advanced calculus? It’s because we need brilliant basics before we can grasp and master the more complex world around us!

It is obvious that we have a massively unequal society; and when you look at the living conditions that great swathes of our population have to deal with, you can easily believe why a great deal of the examples I have given above seem irrelevant. What does it matter that I am throwing my rubbish out the window onto the ground when I have to live and sleep in an area rife with violent crime and absolute poverty?

We teach people how to treat us! But this is where Brilliant Basics are the most relevant!

We teach people how to treat us!

This means we cannot just accept someone else’s lack of standards. We have to have the conviction to stand by and enforce our own Brilliant Basics. This is not a call for vigilanteism! I am not calling for mob justice! I am calling for each and every single one of us to simply ensure that we can be sure that our Brilliant Basics are in place! You never know who is watching and who you are making an impression on! And if we have learned anything from digital marketing —- someone is always watching!

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